Epidemiological work by the Arkansas Department of Health suggests an outbreak involving as many as 30 people in the Stuttgart, AR, is likely centered on the local Chuck Wagon Restaurant.

In a statement Wednesday, the department (ADH) said it has four confirmed cases of salmonella in the outbreak, which it began investigating Aug. 18. The department’s medical director, Dr. Gary Wheeler, told THV-TV Channel 11 news on Wednesday that “several people” have been hospitalized as a result of the outbreak.

“The ADH is taking steps to address this outbreak,” the statement said. “We are collecting biological specimens from patients that are ill. In addition, we are collecting information about where they have eaten and any other common exposures they might have had. This may include animal or work site exposure.

“The ADH has inspected the site that has been identified as a common food source for these individuals and identified risks were removed. We have received cooperation from the site and have provided additional food safety training to all employees. The ADH will be conducting a follow-up inspection.”

State health officials are requesting that people who ate at the restaurant on or around August 14-16 and are experiencing food poisoning symptoms contact their healthcare providers first, and then the Department of Health either at 501-537-8969 or by email at adh.foodsafe@arkansas.gov.

Medical Director Wheeler told local media that the state health department collected samples of food served on the day that outbreak victims had eaten at the restaurant.

The ADH Outbreak Response team will continue to investigate the Stuttgart outbreak. The team includes staff from Environmental Health Services, the Outbreak Control Branch, the Epidemiology Branch and the Public Health Laboratory. In addition, the ADH has been working with local physicians and laboratories.

The ADH encourages everyone to help prevent the spread of infectious disease by practicing good hygiene and washing hands thoroughly and regularly.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days. For more information on Salmonella infection visit www.cdc.gov/salmonella/index.html.

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